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Differentiating Between Memory Care Communities and Nursing Homes for Dementia Patients

Senior living resident smiling

Supporting a loved one with symptoms of dementia or memory loss can be a struggle. The challenge is compounded if you’re unable to find the help you, and your loved one, need. If you’re finding it difficult to access care for a family member with dementia, rest assured the support you need is available. You simply need to adjust where — and how — you look for it.

Refine Your Search Terms

Often, when people are looking for dementia-related support, they start by searching for nursing homes for dementia patients. Unfortunately, the search results can be unsatisfactory. That’s because what most people have in mind for their loved one is not a nursing home but a memory care community. The latter could be either a stand-alone memory care community or a dedicated memory care neighborhood within a retirement community that offers other levels of living and care. 

If you’re not sure of the difference — or which would be best for your loved one — a few definitions may help.

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care is specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In memory care communities, emphasis is placed on creating a comforting, safe environment in which people struggling with memory loss can find security, comfort and contentment. Specialized dementia care communities typically offer a high level of expertise and have features aimed specifically at memory support, including:

  • Specially trained staff who know how to handle the confusion, anxiety and aggression that sometimes arise with memory loss
  • Simplified floor plans to reduce residents’ disorientation
  • Security features to protect residents prone to wandering, a common risk for people with dementia
  • Therapies designed to help slow the progression of dementia
  • Scheduled activities and social events to keep residents engaged, active and purposeful

What Is a Nursing Home?

Many of us use the phrase “nursing home” as a general term for any community that serves the needs of seniors. These communities are more accurately called senior living communities, and may provide a spectrum of options, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation and memory care. A nursing home, on the other hand, is a specific type of facility that serves people who need ongoing medical care that is typically beyond what can be provided at home, but it isn’t enough to require hospitalization.

Which Kind of Care Is Right for Your Loved One?

There are similarities in the basic services provided by memory care communities and nursing homes. In both, residents receive regular meals and personal assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and managing medications. Both typically help residents stay engaged and socially active through scheduled activities and events. And both are fundamentally motivated by a desire to meet each resident’s needs and support greater quality of life.

In a nursing home, residents’ medical needs are the top priority. In memory care, support for people with memory loss is the main focus.

Specialized Memory Care at Parkwood

Parkwood, a senior living community in Bedford, TX, offers a unique care option – compassionate memory care for residents of both our assisted living and skilled nursing neighborhoods. Our Alzheimer’s Certified Memory Care Facility is staffed by caring, conscientious professionals trained in Heartfelt Connections – A Memory Care Program®, which promotes person-centered care. These certified dementia care staff members offer support to residents in our skilled nursing facility who are receiving high-level, round-the-clock medical care for chronic illness, injury or ongoing health conditions. In addition, they  provide memory support for residents of assisted living — where residents can get help with basic self-care tasks, housekeeping and medication management — and enhanced assisted living.

If you’re curious about Parkwood and whether it might be a good fit for your family member, contact us. We’d love to answer any questions you have about memory care or any of our other senior living options.